"Who would have thought?" Brooks asks in bewilderment. "That thing was sitting in there, probably stuck to some piece of metal when it got too hot. When the printer was in energy-saving mode, it probably cooled and got dislodged, then did that all over again every day."
On the plus side, that area of the office always had a delightful tutti-fruitti-like smell.
The brave soul willing to share his blunder is Rob Miller. Miller, now an IT consultant in New Jersey, was working as a network engineer at a well-known East Coast university some years back. He had just been promoted and was being sent out on one of his first solo missions: a new network drop install. Piece of cake -- or so you'd think.
"The order said the drop was for the janitor," Miller says. "When I got to the building, I told them I was there to do the janitor's network install and asked where to go."
The folks in the building pointed Miller toward the janitor's closet -- which seemed sensible enough -- and he got right to work. In hindsight, maybe the notion of putting a network connection next to a floor sink should have been a red flag, but hey, orders are orders.
The afternoon ticked away, and Miller finished up the job. He marched back to his boss and proudly announced what he'd done. Unfortunately, he didn't get the praise he was expecting.
"My boss seemed confused and said, 'You didn't talk to me about the ticket first,'" Miller remembers. "'How could you possibly have known where to do the install?'"
The janitor, as it turns out, had been hired for a clerical job in the same building he used to clean. The network drop was supposed to be for his new desk -- not his old custodial closet. In other words, Miller had some serious cleaning up to do in order to make the situation right.
"It's one of those things where you get a better laugh after the fact," he admits.
Luckily, aside from some well-deserved jabs from his colleagues, the misstep didn't hurt Miller much; he spent another day doing the right install, and the custodian-turned-clerk was able to start his new job without issue. As for the network drop Miller had mistakenly put in the janitor's closet, the university decided to leave it in place.
"I think the mop and bucket are on YouTube right now, enjoying the extra bandwidth," Miller laughs.
- Read the Off the Record blog for stories from IT pros -- and share your own tech tale
- Stupid user tricks 6: IT idiocy loves company
- Stupid user tricks 5: IT's weakest link
- Jackass IT: Stunts, idiocy, and hero hacks
- Dirty IT jobs: Partners in slime
- 2011 geek IQ test
- IT admins gone rogue
- Stupid hacker tricks: Exploits gone bad
- IT inferno: The nine circles of IT hell
- IT personality types: 8 profiles in geekdom
- 7 IT superheroes -- and their fatal flaws
- The 7 dirtiest jobs in IT
- True IT confessions
- Programming IQ test: Round 2
- Linux admin IQ test
This story, "Stupid tech support tricks: IT calls of shame," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get a digest of the key stories each day in the InfoWorld Daily newsletter, and for the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.